Difference between Non-stick and Stainless Steel

Making the decision to purchase new cookware can be difficult. Both non-stick and stainless steel cookware are heavily advertised. Be informed to choose the one that will work best for you.


Teflon coated frying pan
Teflon coated frying pan

When most people think of non-stick pots and pans they automatically think of Teflon. This is a polytetrafluoroethylene coating developed in the fifties and marketed by Dupont. There are concerns about Teflon because it can flake off the pan into the food. This makes it less durable as well, especially if you wash it in the dishwasher, use a harsh sponge on it washing by hand, or use metal utensils while cooking with it. However, there are other non-stick surfaces available today such as titanium and ceramic surfaces that are sandblasted onto the pan surface and fired to a staggering 2000 degrees Centigrade. Other non-stick surfaces include coated cast iron and seasoned cast iron. These newer forms of non-stick cookware are much more durable and do not carry any of the health risks of Teflon.

Stainless steel frying pan
Stainless steel frying pan

Stainless steel cookware is made up of a metal alloy made into steel that will not stain or become marred. You can cook anything in stainless steel cookware, it is dishwasher safe, and can last a lifetime. Stainless steel is not a great conductor, so it can be difficult to heat up the pot or pan. However, you can purchase stainless steel cookware that has an aluminum or copper core to help with conductivity. Stainless steel is preferred by most professional chefs.

Comparison chart

Non-stick Stainless Steel
Coated metal Uncoated metal
Can be easily damaged Extremely durable
Easier to clean Easier to moderate temperature
Concerns about health Preferred by chefs

Non-stick vs Stainless steel

What is the difference between non-stick and stainless steel? Let’s compare them by construction options, durability, cooking with food, and chef preference.

  • Non-stick is metal with a coating such as Teflon, ceramic or titanium. It can also be a coated cast iron pan. Stainless steel is of single metal construction unless you purchase cookware with an aluminum or copper core.
  • Non-stick, particularly Teflon, can become easily damaged if metal utensils or rough sponges are used on the cookware. Stainless steel cookware is very durable and can last a lifetime.
  • Non-stick is easier to clean but does not necessarily keep food from burning. If food does get too hot the non-stick surface can bubble and cause the coating to come off into the food. Stainless steel may allow food to stick if it burns, but you can cook anything in it including things that must be cooked at higher temperatures.
  • Chefs prefer stainless steel with a copper core because it is a good conductor of heat, is easily controlled with cooking any food, and does not risk the deterioration of Teflon.


You can refer to this video for more details on the difference: